Shoppers line up in downtown Montreal as retailers reopen to public

Shoppers line up in downtown Montreal as retailers reopen to public

MONTREAL — Eager shoppers lined up outside some stores in downtown Montreal on Monday as retailers in the city were allowed to reopen for the first time since a partial lockdown was imposed in March.

Masks, Plexiglas barriers, frequent disinfecting and no-touch browsing were some of the measures put in place by retailers who chose to open their doors, while customers were being asked to remain spaced apart and follow hygiene protocols.

On Ste-Catherine Street, the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, dozens of people lined up outside a downtown Zara outlet, many eager to get summer clothes.

They were greeted at the door by masked employees and a hand-sanitizing station, while a sign warned that the number of customers would be limited.

Zuleyha Sen said she was going to get new clothes for her almost eight-year-old son. She said he’d grown since last year, and online orders have been delayed due to the pandemic.

“I won’t go in for a long time, I’m just hoping to grab several things,” said Sen, who said she felt safe even without a mask.

Outside H&M, Sami Derian emerged with a bag of pants and T-shirts. He said he was ”excited” to be out shopping and had no concerns about his safety.

“A lot of people are getting depressed. I think it just helps people to be able to get out and see people outside. It just feels good,” he said.

Derian said the experience was a good one, even if he had to buy clothes without trying them on.

The provincial government is allowing retail stores in the hard-hit region to reopen, as long as they can be accessed directly from outside and customers can keep a safe distance from one another.

Some store owners have said they’re adapting to the new reality by limiting customers and offering appointments, contactless payment methods and options to collect orders made online.

At Brown’s shoes, several customers milled around as they perused displays of shoes on sale, aided by workers wearing gloves, masks and visors.

Eric Ouaknine, a director of retail experience for the company, said he was pleased with how the first hours were going. He said that while there were fewer customers than pre-pandemic, those who came appeared to be serious buyers.

“I don’t believe (traffic) is going to be what it’s been. That being said, I feel the people who are coming in are here to buy,” he said in an interview. ”Less browsing, more buying.”

Ouaknine said the store developed a long list of protocols surrounding reopening, including hand sanitizer, taped markers to show people how far apart to stand, raising the limit for no-contact transactions and offering workers masks, gloves and visors.

On the other hand, he acknowledged it could be a challenge to maintain a two-metre distance between employees and customers, and virtually impossible to sell shoes without allowing people to try them on.

“People like to touch the shoes and you can’t stop then from doing that, but what we can do is have them sanitize their hands before entering the store, and that’s the best we can do,” he said.

Montreal is a Canadian hot spot for COVID-19, with more than 24,000 cases as of Monday. But despite the numbers, many shoppers said they weren’t worried about their health.

The province has repeatedly urged customers to wear non-medical face masks when out in public but has stopped short of making them mandatory. On Monday, while many customers wore them, the choice was far from universal.

Louise Allard, who wore a white cloth mask as she waited at Simons, said she was concerned by a lack of face coverings and physical distancing.

“When I see the majority of people don’t have masks, it worries me,” she said.

Non-essential shops outside Montreal were allowed to reopen May 4. Legault announced Monday that shopping malls outside the Montreal area will be allowed to open June 1, along with hairdressers, estheticians and other personal care providers outside the city.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Province and rural municipalities agree on a plan to support Alberta’s energy industry

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

The influenza vaccine will be available at no cost starting Monday in Alberta. “The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs," says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Hinshaw urges Albertans to get flu shot as COVID cases jump by 332

Alberta’s central zone now has 132 active COVID-19 cases

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

(The Canadian Press)
Alberta-raised Cree actor lands role in Disney’s live-action ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’

Tiger Lily is featured in Disney’s 1953 animated “Peter Pan” film

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday February 4, 2020 in Ottawa. The Alberta government is welcoming news that Ottawa has approved an expansion of the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. gathering system in Alberta — while condemning federal delays that it says cost this summer’s construction season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta welcomes federal approval of gas pipeline expansion while criticizing delay

Pipeline division owned by Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. will now be required to restore 3,840 hectares of caribou habitat,

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny and government house leader Jason Nixon chat before the speech from the throne delivered in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Alberta politicians are to return to the legislature Tuesday with a plan to discuss up to 20 new bills — many of which are focused on the province’s economic recovery. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta legislature to resume Tuesday; focus to be on economic recovery

Opposition house leader Heather Sweet said the NDP will focus on holding Premier Jason Kenney

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Executive Director of Agape Kate Halas (left) receives $1000 from Sgt. Eric Christensen (right) on behalf of Agape. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.
Former Wetaskiwin Peace Officer wins provincial award; gives back to Wetaskiwin community

Eric Christensen has won the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers Award of Excellence.

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Big boost for Alberta college agriculture research

The $2-million agreement to benefit Lethbridge College’s applied research team

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Canadian couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read